By his own account, pop country’s so called ‘New Outlaw’ Eric Church doesn’t mind ruffling feathers. With his new pot anthem “Smoke A Little Smoke,” he’s doing that very thing, and not just with the morality police.
Of course Eric Church fans are eating this song up like a bowl of Count Chocula in a munchie attack, but even some professed non Eric Church fans are praising this song as “catchy.” In my dirty little music world, calling a song “catchy” is an insult, though if your mind is numbed by years of exposure to pop country, a song with some glittering electronica and simple layering might sound like a musical wonderland. Maybe a nameless sound engineer deserves a pat on the back for this song, but beyond that, it’s bad, and not in the Michael Jackson kind of way.
Some are praising the song’s originality, but a few Frank Zappa fans are crying foul that the title and lyric of “Smoke a Little Smoke” are ripped from Zappa’s anti-disco song Dancing Fool (@ 3:10). A similar line is also in another pot song, Do It All Again by Chad Hatcher, and I wonder if Collective Soul is expecting royalties for the “Yeah” part in the chorus. Honestly its all within the realm of poetic license, but it’s a little hard to make the argument this song is rich with originality.
Meanwhile well-adjusted pop country fans who for the most part have staved away the perversion of drugs in their music are finding themselves at Eric Church concerts, shocked by all the pot references, and not just in this this song. Eric’s gone pot crazy, throwing pot leaves around on all his merch, tweezing his thumb and first finger together on stage in the universal pot sign. It’s pot peetie pot pot–let’s all ride the purple Snuffleupagus to pot-ilicious pot-land!
How did this perversion slip out of Music Row? No worries, the radio single is censored courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville who knows all about morality, as they once sued a charity representing the grieving families of dead firefighters. (There’s a Smoke/Fire pun in here somewhere, but I’ll spare you.) Apparently they mince the words a bit to make it seem this song is talking about “cigarettes and alcohol,” once again pointing out that Music Row thinks its fans are stupid. If Eric Church had stood up for this song, it would’ve finally given me a chance to stand up for him. But instead he gave in to his label’s bid for mass appeal.
A check of Eric Church’s merch illustrated to me what all this pot nonsense is REALLY about.
The marijuana leaf and pot references have long since been used as marketing tools, but it’s never been taken out of context like this. The first shirt is clearly a play for Grateful Dead fans with it’s skeletons and roses. Really? If you can find ONE true hippie at an Eric Church concert, I’ll eat my hat.
As for the other shirt: I’ve been saying for a while, the whole scheme behind these “New Outlaws” is to eradicate the country music underground by attempting to incorporate them. Right now disgruntled country fans might make up half the genre, but a lot of those fans have not come from mainstream country, but from punk, metal, classic rock backgrounds, thus the black skull and pot motif. Once again, they are stealing plays out of the playbook. Problem is, the music is still the same old tired pop song.
But except for all of that, I think this song is GREAT!
Oh, and for all the Eric Church fans, you’re right, I AM jealous of Eric Church. An no, I haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and listen to his songs. You win.